Thankful for God’s Joy

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I am still feeling surrounded with the joy of Jesus Christ’s birth, so I’d like to share another of the devotionals I wrote for the anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday PeopleThis particular devotional was included in the section titled Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving. 

 

When I want to thank God for His joy . . .

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.

—Psalm 100:1-2
 

[The  LORD says] The joy of the LORD will fill you to overflowing.
You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.

—Isaiah 41:16 NLT
 

We are praying . . . that you will be filled with his mighty,
glorious strength so that you can keep going  no matter what happens—
always full of the joy of the Lord.

—Colossians 1:11 TLB
 

You will make known to me the path of life;
in Your presence is fullness of joy.
—Psalm 16:11 NASB
 

Be full of joy in the Lord always.
I will say it again, be full of joy.

—Philippians 4:4 NCV

 

. . . I will pray.

Glorious Father,

Today I woke up singing a praise song that I heard on the radio yesterday. I guess it must have settled into my mind because I remember hearing it play through my dreams during the night as I slept. What a wonderful way to start the day! No matter how tired, cranky, or achy I feel when I wake up, praising You in song overcomes any pain or irritation I may be experiencing.

There are so many reasons to be joyful when thinking about You. Knowing I can always turn to You for guidance makes me smile with gratification. Your comforting arms holding me close make me sigh in blissful contentment.

Your heavenly joy becomes visible when I hear the delighted giggling of a child or see the tiny hands and feet of a newborn baby. And how can I not rejoice with You when a glorious rainbow paints the sky? I always appreciate Your readiness to show me the joys in life, especially when I’m at my lowest. You give me joy enough for each and every day. Thank You for Your gracious gift.

Amen.

I have no understanding of a long-faced Christian.
If God is anything, He must be joy.

—Joe E. Brown

 

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[From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]

 

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A Son is Given

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For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders. 
And he will be called    
Wonderful Counselor,  

Mighty God, 

Everlasting Father, 

Prince of Peace.  

Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. 
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, 
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness 
from that time on and forever. 
The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. 
—Isaiah 9:6-7

 

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Mary Treasured All These Things

Please enjoy this special Christmas devotional by Pat Knight.

Thank you, Pat, for blessing us with this wonderful rendition of Mary’s viewpoint in being the one to give birth to our Savior, Jesus Christ, and watch Him as He grew up.

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“Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

Mary was an ordinary person who accomplished the extraordinary. As a young teenager, a mere twelve to fourteen years of age, Mary possessed a quiet faith, one that conveyed submission, humility, and inner strength of character. The angel assured her, Do not be afraid. You have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 2:32).

Mary was initially overwhelmed and perplexed by the announcement, but she asked only one question of the angel Gabriel: “How will this be since I am a virgin?” (Luke 2:34). Once Gabriel responded that the Holy Spirit would overcome her to create her pregnancy, Mary replied, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be done to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38). Her next response was to compose and sing a song of praise and glory to God, rejoicing in His mercy lavished upon her. Mary’s song ends with conviction that God will be true to all of His promises. She felt honored that she had been chosen to participate in a miracle that would fulfill God’s promise made centuries ago to bring the prophesied Savior to the world.

Mary didn’t attempt to live in the future, avoiding futile “what if” questions. She relied upon her Lord to meet all of her needs on a daily basis. Whenever she was reminded of a new aspect of Jesus’ future predicted by a prophet or an angel, Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). God recognized Mary’s superlative heart value. He chose her as the mother of Jesus by examining her heart and found it overflowing with goodness. To hold the Son of God in her arms, to cuddle Him, to nurture and instruct Him, must have been a tremendous privilege and responsibility, not so different from the devotion and love all mothers feel toward their children. However, a sense of wonder must have constantly permeated Mary’s emotions.

As Jesus matured, He gradually developed an awareness of His unique relationship to God. He was also perfectly obedient to His earthly parents. Mary and Joseph must have yearned for their firstborn to experience every aspect of life, but Jesus was unable to fall in love, have a family, or experience any permanent status on earth. Jesus the Christ, was God in the flesh. He was focused on the work with eternal consequences He must perform during his brief time on earth.

Jesus’ parents had no forewarning that their adult son would walk on water, cure the blind, or heal the lame. But they believed unreservedly in His mission. At a wedding where the wine supply was exhausted much to early in the celebrations, Mary asked Jesus to help in some way to prevent embarrassment to the bridegroom. Then she instructed the servants, “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5). Though Jesus had never performed a miracle up to that point, Mary trusted His abilities and judgment explicitly. She was likely as surprised as the servants that Jesus converted gallons of plain water into elegant wine.

Jesus was born on earth not to constantly perform fantastic miracles, as needed as they were, but to bring redemption of sin to the multitudes. Soon the prediction the prophet Simon uttered when Jesus was still an infant, was proving true; that Mary as well as Jesus would suffer deep anguish in the future. When Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, storm clouds of opposition and rejection gathered over His life. Mary must have felt personally attacked when she viewed mob hatred escalating toward her son. Jesus was the subject of intolerance and shame, scorn and disbelief. Mary paid a tremendous price to bring the Savior into the world; she paid an exorbitant price to stand beneath the cross, witnessing the torment of Jesus during his heinous crucifixion. Mary’s heart must have completely shattered, spilling forth all the treasures she’d pondered over the past thirty-three years of her son’s life.

As He hung from the cross, Jesus assigned His beloved disciple, John, to care for His mother for the rest of her life. Then Mary retreated into seclusion with Jesus’ committed followers, where they hid from the Roman authorities, praying for protection and guidance. Three days later, news arrived that Jesus had risen from the dead. How Mary rejoiced! Her son, the Son of God, was alive! Thanksgiving filled the air.

Are we willing to cling to our beliefs as Mary did, even when the rising tide of public opposition threatens to chip away at our spiritual commitment like granite eroding from the constant battering of surging tides? Just as the plans for the incarnation of our Savior were flawlessly choreographed in heaven, God loves us so much that His purposes for each of our lives are also perfect. As we celebrate the birth of our Savior this Christmas season, let us follow Mary’s example, learning to treasure all the Words of God and ponder them in our hearts.

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Please enjoy this beautiful rendition of “Mary, Did You Know?” by Pentatonix.

If for any reason you are unable to view the video, please CLICK HERE for the lyrics.

 

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Christmas Greetings

Rick and I would like to wish all of you a wonderful Christmas
and abundant blessings in 2015!

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Praise be to the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in the heavenly realms
with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
—Ephesians 1:3

 

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A Child is Born [Repost]

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For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. —Isaiah 9:6

I’m sure most of us have been the recipients of birth announcements from friends and family. We get excited when we read the good news, but have any of those been as exciting or answered such a deep need as this one from Isaiah?

We announce the birth of our sweet, cuddly and cute newborns with clever sayings amid pastel colors and pictures of bunnies, kittens, teddy bears, and the like. But just look at how Jesus’ birth is described by the prophet Isaiah:

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Wonderful Counselor … Mighty God … Everlasting Father … Prince of Peace

Beloved, this is not a mere birth announcement. It is a heavenly proclamation!

I cannot think of any other gift that means more to us than God’s special gift to mankind: His Son, Jesus Christ. All over the world, people exchange presents in commemoration of this ultimate gift, which is the only means of rescue from our sins.

Before we realize the need for Jesus in our lives, we are in a deep darkness of doubt and anxiety. After we ask Jesus to come into our hearts as our Savior, we leap from that lonely, dark void into a glorious and joyful anticipation of eternal life with Him at our side.

Just as Jesus’ death on the cross changes our darkness into the radiant light of eternal joy, a close relationship with Him is the only thing that can help us find joy and thankfulness amidst our daily struggles and pain. Jesus understands what we’re going through and wants us to lean on Him for comfort, support and spiritual nourishment. His birth fulfilled Isaiah’s prophetic message of hope and in the same way, we can look forward to this realization:

our ultimate hope is a perfect heaven in which there will be no pain or suffering

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Beloved, I’m thinking that after going through this earthly time of pain and anguish, we will be dancing with joy and delight as we step into that glorious heavenly light! This is what we should be celebrating as Christmas approaches!

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Immanuel: God With Us

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PROPHECY:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
—Isaiah 7:14

FULFILLMENT:

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord   had said through the prophet: “The virgin   will conceive and give birth to a son, and   they will call him Immanuel”   (which means “God with us”).
—Matthew 1:22-23

…..

I read this recently at PreceptAustin:

Have you ever wondered if you should spell Immanuel with an “I” or an “E?” The answer is that both are correct! Immanuel with an “I” is a transliteration of the original Hebrew word composed of ‘Immanu (with us) and El (God), while Emmanuel with an “E” is a transliteration of the Greek “Emmanouel.” The NET Bible is one of the few translations that maintains this distinction, translating Isa 7:14-note as Immanueland Mt 1:23-note as Emmanuel.

Read the rest here.

 

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